Letter to the Editor – Prices, not bureaucracy, is what we need for taxis

My letter to the editor of the Busselton Dunsborough Times:

Jeff Devenny has called for more taxis but the Dept of Transport is the enemy in this fight, not his friend (Taxi time headache, Busselton Dunsborough Times, 23/01/2015). We already have a way of mediating changes in demand for goods and services and they are called prices. Basic economics tells us that when demand rises, prices goes up, which in turn stimulates supply by drawing in new entrants to the market with the prospect of making money and it is no different when it comes to taxis. If taxis were subject to genuine competition, the opportunity to make an extra buck in peak times would encourage more people to get out onto the roads, instead of staying at home. Unfortunately, our current system kills those incentives because the government has created a taxi cartel and has fixed prices, which artificially restricts competition and means that consumers pay for the shortage of taxis with their time, instead of with money.

A system where the government can hand out new taxi plates by its own discretion will never work, and we see that failure every time Busselton gets an influx of tourists. What taxi drivers and consumers need is an end to the government’s meddling in the taxi industry for the benefit of plate owners through deregulation, which would let prices do their important work in increasing supply of taxis at critical times and ensuring that consumers get a reliable, efficient and high quality service at peak times.

Lee Herridge
Yalyalup, Busselton.

Song of the Day–28/2/14

This song by Korn is also in the ‘Loving this song right now’ category. Lean, menacing and with an awesome chorus, I think this is Korn when they are at their best. While the guitars and bass don’t have the particular sound from that Life Is Peachy/Freak on a Leash era, I still think this is a great sounding song. I’m definitely gonna have to check out the rest of this album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcACvjXuclA

Nazis were socialists, not capitalists

Dan Hannan hits the nail on the head when it comes to trying to link free market policies and facism:

To be absolutely clear, I don’t believe that modern Leftists have subliminal Nazi leanings, or that their loathing of Hitler is in any way feigned. That’s not my argument. What I want to do, by holding up the mirror, is to take on the equally false idea that there is an ideological continuum between free-marketers and fascists.

The idea that Nazism is a more extreme form of conservatism has insinuated its way into popular culture. You hear it, not only when spotty students yell “fascist” at Tories, but when pundits talk of revolutionary anti-capitalist parties, such as the BNP and Golden Dawn, as “far Right”.

What is it based on, this connection? Little beyond a jejune sense that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists are nasty. When written down like that, the notion sounds idiotic, but think of the groups around the world that the BBC, for example, calls “Right-wing”: the Taliban, who want communal ownership of goods; the Iranian revolutionaries, who abolished the monarchy, seized industries and destroyed the middle class; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who pined for Stalinism. The “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick is a symptom of the wider notion that “Right-wing” is a synonym for “baddie”.

Song of the Day – 27/2/14

This excellent pop track by Sky Ferreira is currently getting a good workout on my iPod at the moment. The bass, beats and guitar have a real familiar 80s vibe for me, reminding me of me of the general sound of pop music in my very early years. It certainly is impressive that she injured herself on stage, giving herself a cut that required 60 stitches, but still managed to finish her set.

Freedom, discrimination and SB 1062

Ilya Shapiro has a great article up at Cato:

The prototypical scenario that SB 1062 is meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexico wedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony. This photographer doesn’t refuse to provide services to gay clients, but felt that she couldn’t participate in the celebration of a gay wedding. There’s also the Oregon bakerythat closed rather than having to provide wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies. Why should these people be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious beliefs?

For that matter, gay photographers and bakers shouldn’t be forced to work religious celebrations, Jews shouldn’t be forced to work Nazi rallies, and environmentalists shouldn’t be forced to work job fairs in logging communities. This isn’t the Jim Crow South; there are plenty of wedding photographers – over 100 in Albuquerque – and bakeries who would be willing to do business regardless of sexual orientation, and no state is enforcing segregation laws. I bet plenty of Arizona businesses would and do see more customers if they advertised that they welcomed the LGBT community.

Let’s be clear – the cause for this Bill is that homosexual couples have come after Christians, who have refused to participate in their wedding ceremonies, in the courts. If you are going to use the courts as a weapon to beat your ideological opponents with, don’t be surprised if they want to defend themselves with the law also.

SB 1062 wasn’t like the horrendous Jim Crow laws in the US, where governments forced racial segregation on their populations. In that case, the state was denying freedom of association – businesses were happy to serve their black customers in the same way as their white customers and the government said that was unacceptable and forced them to be racist. As best I can tell, SB 1062 would’ve have just clarified that you can do what you want with your stuff, which is the very basis for all freedom. It doesn’t all religious businesses to take other people’s stuff or hit them; it doesn’t allow them  meddle in the affairs of other businesses – it just allows a religious person to do what they want with their own stuff.

My only quibble with this Bill is that the criteria was based on religion. The State shouldn’t force anyone to provide a service they don’t want to – their reasoning doesn’t matter. If you want to be racist with how you operate your business, that is your right. If you want to refuse to participate in a homosexual wedding ceremony (something I don’t have a problem with but I understand why other Christians do), that is your right. If you don’t want to participate in a Christian wedding ceremony, that is your right. The State has no legitimate authority to tell you what is the ethical use of your own property.

I can appreciate that this might be a bitter pill to swallow for homosexuals and their allies – the US, like many countries, has a substantial history of very real and violent persecution of homosexuals, which should never be forgotten. It is evil when the State picks a minority to target for violence or harassment, or turn a blind eye to private players doing the same. However, two wrongs do not make a right and homosexuals and their allies should police their own when it comes to using the courts or the State as weapons in the Culture War. It is unacceptable in a free society to coerce businesses to provide a service they find unconscionable and whatever its flaws were, SB 1062 stood for those values.

Update: Ilya Shapiro has made another, very excellent, comment.

Hack asks the right questions on agricultural handouts

I have been pretty critical of Triple J in the past but today on Hack, Tom Tilley really turned the screws onto Barnaby Joyce, Federal Agricultural Minister, about the recent announcement of handouts to farmers (listen from the 24min mark):

Tilley points out the truth – that farming isn’t anything special, that they aren’t the only business with long term time frames for revenue and that they need to plan more for the future. The paucity of Joyce’s arguments is exposed when Tilley pointed out the economic truth about farming, that maybe the future is in getting bigger – he falls back to a political argument (he can’t sell it), a cultural argument (that small family farms are inherently good) and a distraction (that the ABC is exposed to the same argument, which is true). In the end, Joyce has no credible economic argument for these handouts – it is a political fix for a favoured group of constituents.

Tilley would do well to interview LDP Senator-elect for NSW, David Leyonhjelm, who slays the arguments for agricultural subsidies.